In the United States, there are as many as 50 languages that are spoken by five people or fewer. Here in our region, the Western Abenaki language is threatened. According to the journal Cultural Survival Quarterly, 70 Native American languages will disappear in the next 10 years if nothing is done to keep them alive.But around the world people are working to rescue native languages from extinction.
Jeanne Brink is a respected Abenaki basket-maker and cultural presenter. She worked with author Gordon Day, on a Western Abenaki Language Guide. Ellen Lutz is the Executive Director of Cultural Survival, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based group that works to defend the cultural heritage of indigenous people and oppressed ethnic minorities. They spoke with VPR’s Jane Lindholm about the effort to preserve native languages.